Army Air Defense Artillery History: Units, History, & Cool Facts

In today’s post, I’m going to share with you everything I know about the Army Air Defense Artillery. I’ll share some neat facts, cover the history, and talk about the top Air Defense units.

When we mention Army Air Defense Artillery, what comes to your mind? Personally, I think of anti-aircraft guns, cannons, and missiles. But Army Air Defense entails much more.

Army Air Defense Artillery History

There is no exact date of the start, but Army Air Defense Artillery’s roots travel back to just following the Revolutionary War. Before you start yelling at your computer screen that there was no airplanes to defend against at that time, yes you are correct. But the Army Air Defense Artillery grew from the Coastal Artillery Corps who were the defenders of the coasts from attacking ships and boats. The War of 1812 gained the Coast Artillery Corps several battle streamers.

It was during World War I that the United States Army recognized a need for anti-aircraft artillery to defend troops from attacks from above. The creation of an Anti-Aircraft Artillery Corps was done, and they were still within the Coast Artillery Corps. During World War I, a school was established in France for anti-aircraft artillery. Many of the weapons used were French made, so this school was in the best location. The training was magnificent, as U.S. artillery units used less ammunition, but racked up more kills.

From World War I on, the Anti-Aircraft Artillery Corps lived up to their motto:

First To Fire!

They were the first to defend against the Japanese in Hawaii; they led the way in the Philippines, and the Anti-Aircraft Artillery Corps were some of the first to land on D-Day to make way for Soldiers to get through the German defenses, and to guard from air bombardment. Yes, it was quite evident that the Anti-Aircraft Artillery Corps was here to stay.

For years the Army Air Defense Artillery was under the United States Army Coast Artillery Corps. Realizing that this division performed much more than guard the coasts, in 1950, they became a part of the Artillery Branch. It was during the Vietnam War that the Army realized that Air Defense Artillery needed to be a separate entity. On June 20th of 1968, Army Air Defense Artillery became a separate branch. The mission of the Army Air Defense Artillery is stated in Army Field Manual 44-100. It is:

Protect the force and selected geopolitical assets from aerial attack, missile attack, and surveillance.

army air defense artillery

Army Air Defense Artillery Units

What you will see below are are the major ADA units in the U.S. Army.

Major Commands

These are the three major commands of the Army Air Defense Artillery:

  1. 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command. Started as the 10th Coast Artillery in 1924 at Fort Adams, Rhode Island, the 10th is now headquartered in Germany. They have three decorations which are the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation and two Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citations.
  2. 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command. Their start came in 1918 as Headquarters, 32nd Artillery Brigade, Coast Artillery Corps at Key West Barracks, Florida. Now headquartered at Fort Bliss, Texas, the 32nd has four decorations. They are the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, two Army Superior Unit Awards and a Meritorious Unit Commendation.
  3. 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command. Beginning at Camp Davis, North Carolina, they were the 94th Coast Artillery in 1941. This command is now at Fort Shafter, Hawaii and has two decorations. They are the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation and an Army Superior Unit Award.

Brigades

These are the two Brigades:

  • 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade: Started in 1907 at Fort Terry, New York. This brigade is now headquartered at Fort Bliss, Texas.
  • 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade: Started 1918 at Fort Worden, Washington. This brigade is now headquartered in Germany.

Regiments

Army Air Defense Artillery has many Regiments. They are:

  • 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment
  • 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment
  • 3rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment
  • 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment
  • 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment
  • 6th Air Defense Artillery Regiment
  • 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment
  • 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment
  • 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment
  • 52nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment
  • 62nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment
  • 174th Air Defense Artillery Regiment

Detachments

There are three Army Air Defense Detachments. They are:

  1. 15th Air Defense Artillery Detachment
  2. 238th Air Defense Artillery Detachment
  3. 357th Air Defense Artillery Detachment
Other posts you may enjoy:
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  2. Army 14H MOS: Air Defense Enhanced Early Warning System Operator
  3. Army 140E Warrant Officer: Air and Missile Defense Tactician/Technician
  4. 150A Warrant Officer: Air Traffic Control Technician
  5. Air National Guard vs. Army National Guard: What they Have in Common and How They Are Different

7: Army Air Defense Artillery Insignia

When the ADA was deemed a separate branch of the Army, they were able to have their own insignia. The Army Organization Act of 1950 consolidated the coast and field artillery and the used the crossed field guns. In 1957, the design was slightly changed adding a missile between the two field guns and making them all gold. This insignia is used by the Army Air Defense Artillery.

8: Army Air Defense and NORAD

As technology has increased, Army Air Defense also had to increase. ARADCOM stands for United States Army Air Defense Command. While we all know that ARADCOM is a major command of the Army, what many do not understand is it is a component of NORAD. NORAD stands for North American Aerospace Defense Command. So essentially, ARADCOM works jointly with other military branches (namely the Air Force) to defend us from enemies from the air.

9: ARADCOM Regions

ARADCOM works from several regions. The North American regions are:

  • Region 1 at Fort Totten, New York

  • Region 2 at Richards/Gebaur Air Force Base, Missouri

  • and Region 5 at Fort Sheridan, Illinois

  • Region 6 at Fort Baker, California

  • Region 7 at McChord Air Force Base, Washington

10: Army Missile Master Control Systems

There have been movies made and books written about the possibilities of misfired or misguided missiles. The Army and NORAD has a mode of operation for SAGE Air Defense Artillery. SAGE is a computer program that can control all missile or artillery operations. There are four modes and they consist of:

  1. MODE 1: This is when the NSDC SAGE takes complete control over all the air defense forces within its sector.

  2. MODE 2: This is when the NSDC SAGE is inoperable, the nearest NSDC SAGE will take control of that sector along with the sector it has responsibility for.

  3. Then MODE 3: If MODE 2 is not functional, a NORAD Control Center Commander will take over control of all sectors that are within the problem areas.

  4. MODE 4: As a last resort, if communications with NORAD Control are non-operational, the individual batteries will operate in an autonomous fashion.

If these MODES are followed, there should be no issues of misfired or misguided air defense systems.

top army ada units

Top 10 Army Air Defense Artillery Units

In the paragraphs that follow, I will share what I believe are the top 10 Army Air Defense Artillery Units. It was fun compiling this list. I’ll start with # 10 and work my way up to # 1.

# 10: 5th Battalion, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment

This unit started in March of 1847 as Company M, 2nd Regiment of Artillery. Through 1924, they were based on the coast of Florida where they were inactivated. From 1935 until 1946 they became Battery A, 2nd Coast Artillery Battalion in Virginia. In the 1950’s they were activated at Fort Bliss, Texas as Battery A, 2nd Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion. After more movements and inactivation, they were designated their current name and in 1991 activated in Germany. This unit has participated in many campaigns from the War of 1812 up until the Vietnam War. They have been decorated 8 times all for service in the Vietnam War.

# 9: 3rd Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment

This unit started in 1812 as Captain James Barker’s Company, 2nd Regiment of Artillery. Through many years, this unit was a defense of the coasts of California. In 1971, they were designated their current name without Regiment status, and the next year were assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. In 2005, they received their current status. This unit has more campaign streamers to their credit than I can count 3 times on my fingers and toes. They also have earned 8 decorations with 6 of them for service in Iraq.

# 8: 44th Air Defense Artillery

This unit was developed in France in 1918 as the 44th Artillery of the Coast Artillery Corps. There were many changes with this unit through time, and in 1988, they were withdrawn from the Combat Arms Regimental System and reorganized in the U.S. Army Regimental System. They have campaign streamers from WW I, II, Korea, Vietnam and Southwest Asia. Multiple decorations include a Presidential Citation for the beaches of Normandy, and many awards for service in Vietnam.

# 7: 1st Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment

They started at Fort Preble, Maine in 1901 as the 107th Company, Coast Artillery, Coast Artillery Corps. They were disbanded in 1944, but in 1958 they were re designated as Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Missile Battalion, 43rd Artillery at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. In 1972, they were given their current name at Fort Richardson, Alaska. In 1982, they were activated at Fort Bliss, Texas. Campaigns streamers came from WW I, II, Korea and Southwest Asia. This unit has 10 decorations with the majority being from service in Korea.

# 6: 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment

This unit was developed in France in 1918 as the 43rd Artillery. In 1944, it was disbanded. In the 50’s they were put back into service, and in 1971 they were renamed the 43rd Air Defense Artillery. In 2005, they became a Regiment. Campaign streamers come from WW I, II, Korea, Southwest Asia and the Global War on Terrorism. They have been decorated 11 times from multiple campaigns.

# 5: 2nd Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment

This unit was organized at Fort Totten, New York in 1901 as the 101st Company, Coast Artillery, Coast Artillery Corps. After going through many re designations, this unit was disbanded in 1944 at Camp Livingston, Louisiana. In 1962, they were reactivated at Fort Sill, Oklahoma as 2nd Battalion, 44th Artillery. They were inactivated and reactivated in Korea adding Air Defense to their name. They became a Regiment in 2005. They have campaign streamers that could fill a small book, from the 1st World War all the way to the recent events in Iraq and Afghanistan. They also have numerous decorations from these campaigns.

# 4: 3rd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment

They got their start in 1916 at Fort Mills in the Philippine Islands as Fort Command Company, Fort Mills. After going through many name changes, the unit was disbanded in 1944. In 1958, this unit became Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Missile Battalion, 43rd Artillery at Lumberton, New Jersey. Inactivated in 1974 in New Jersey, they were reactivated in 1987 at Fort Bliss, Texas. In 2005 they received their current title. They have many campaigns to their credit along with a plethora of decorations.

# 3: 2nd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment

In 1907 at Fort Mott, New Jersey, this unit was organized as the 138th Company, Coast Artillery Corps. Like many other artillery battalions, they were disbanded in 1944. They were activated as Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Missile Battalion, 43rd Artillery at Redmond, Washington in 1958. They are now a Regiment and based at Fort Bliss, Texas. This unit also has campaign credits from both World Wars, Korea, Southwest Asia and the War on Terror. This unit has 7 Presidential citations along with several other decorations.

# 2: 1st Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment

In 1898, this unit was Battery A, 7th Regiment of Artillery at Fort Slocum, New York. Going through many years of defending East coast areas, this unit was disbanded in 1944. In 1988, this unit was activated in Germany and in 2005 they gained their current title. They have a lot of campaign streamers with the majority from Vietnam. They also have a load of decorations and awards, with Vietnam being one of the top reasons they gained awards.

# 1: 1st Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment

This unit was organized in 1899 at Jackson Barracks, Louisiana as Battery O, 1st Regiment of Artillery. In 1916, they became 2nd Company, Fort H.G. Wright, New York. In 1944, they were disbanded at Camp Rucker, Alabama. In 1966, they were activated at Fort Bliss, Texas as 1st Battalion, 44th Artillery. In 1988, they were assigned to the 9th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Washington. In 2005, they became the 1st Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment. Campaigns:

  • World War I – 5
  • World War II – 10
  • Korean War – 10
  • Vietnam War – 13
  • Iraq War – 3

Decorations include:

  • 3 Presidential Unit Citations
  • 2 Valorous Unit Awards
  • An Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
  • An Army Superior Unit Award
  • The Belgian Fourragere
  • 2 Citations for Belgian Army Order of the Day
  • and a Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm

mission of army air defense

Final Thoughts

As time and technology grows at the pace it has, Army Air Defense Artillery will also have to grow. We have been moving into realms where Wars in space via satellites or other means is inevitable. I am sure that Army Air and Missile Defense is preparing for these possibilities.

When Ronald Reagan was President, he brought to light the Star Wars Defense program. It is this writer’s opinion that we are closer to that than many people realize.

What are your thoughts or opinions? I would love to hear from any of you who are members of an Army Air Defense Artillery unit. I must say that we appreciate all the Air Defenses have done to protect us as a nation. Without them, I would not want to imagine the shape the U.S. would be in.

Sincerely,
chuck holmes





Chuck Holmes
Publisher, Part-Time-Commander.com
Email: mrchuckholmes@gmail.com

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